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Tree Physiol. 1994 Jan;14(1):17-26.

Somaclonal variation in growth, leaf phenotype and gas exchange characteristics of poplar: utilization of leaf morphotype analysis as a basis for selection.

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Department of Environmental Resource Management, University College, Dublin, Ireland.


Populus hybrid TT32 lines produced from 15 treatment tissue culture regimes exhibited somaclonal variation in morphological and gas exchange parameters. Within four years of regeneration, discrete lines showing statistically validated superior, or inferior, growth performance relative to the parental reference clone were identified. Significant differences in the ratio of leaf length/width between treatment lines provided the earliest reliable indicator of the divergence in overall growth performance. Despite discernible variation in leaf phenotype among primary regenerants and secondary propagules within individual lines, the leaf length/width ratio was identified as a potential parameter for predicting growth performance. Its subsequent use led to the recognition of four distinct leaf morphotypes; cordate, ovate, reniform and oval. Two or more of these morphotypes were distributed within each of the original 15 treatment lines. Regrouping the data on the basis of leaf morphotype resulted in a clear segregation of the morphological traits, and revealed differences that were not readily apparent by statistical analysis based on treatment groups. The demonstration of similar relative performances by individual morphotypes with respect to a range of growth and gas exchange parameters confirmed that variation in leaf morphology was indicative of differential photosynthetic performance. Somaclonal variants with a leaf morphology was indicative of differential photosynthetic performance. Somaclonal variants with a leaf morphotype closest to that of the parental line showed the highest overall potential for selection, suggesting that the greatest benefits accrue from a minimal disturbance of the parental leaf phenotype.

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